Discrepancies with the COVID-19 hospitalization data released by Alaska DHSS the past two days has some Alaskans concerned about the accuracy of the data the state is reporting.
Yesterday, when the Alaska dashboard was initially updated, Alaska DHSS reported 205 hospitalizations/PUI statewide and 136 hospitalizations/PUI in the municipality of Anchorage. (PUI stands for Persons Under Investigation or suspected of having COVID-19.)
On the afternoon of November 30, Alaska DHSS removed that data and replaced it with the following:
Statewide hospitalizations/PUI dropped to 162 and the reported number of hospitalizations reported within the municipality of Anchorage dropped to 103.
DHSS also reported 44 staffed ICU beds being available statewide yesterday as well as 18 staffed ICU beds being available in the municipality of Anchorage and three staffed ICU beds available in Mat-Su.
Today, December 1, the initial hospitalization data reported by Alaska DHSS was exactly the same as it was yesterday. I wondered how this could be so and also wondered why the Anchorage Daily News had reported the same hospitalization data as yesterday writing today, "Statewide on Tuesday, 44 intensive care unit beds were available out of 134, and 15.1% of total hospitalizations statewide were COVID-related."
After waiting an hour to see if the data would be updated to the dashboard, I reached out to Alaska DHSS on Twitter and asked them if they could help us all out with an explanation as to why the hospitalization data was the same as it was on November 30. Having not received an answer, I asked the same question in a reply on a Alaska DHSS tweet thanking Governor Dunleavy for proclaiming today HIV/AIDS day. No response.
Roughly 15 minutes after my last inquiry to Alaska DHSS, I noticed that the hospitalization data on the dashboard had been updated and now reflects the following for today, December 1 nearly two hours after Alaska DHSS had updated the dashboard.
155 statewide hospitalizations/PUI
95 hospitalizations/PUI in the municipality of Anchorage
26 staffed ICU beds statewide
5 staffed ICU beds in the municipality of Anchorage
3 staffed ICU beds in Mat-Su
As media outlets around the state continue to write about our healthcare capacity, our healthcare staffing concerns, a backlog of cases not yet cleared by Alaska DHSS, and during another shutdown in Anchorage which has many residents concerned...it would seem important, if not essential...that the public receive accurate and timely data from Alaska DHSS. Confusion is not good messaging during a pandemic that has Anchorage largely shutdown.